Tag Archives: Zsolt Bayer

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelification of Europe” and Mária M. Kovács’s review

Well-known pro-government “intellectuals” often create blogs on which they write articles paid for by the Orbán government. Mária Schmidt, by contrast, offers her services gratis. She doesn’t need the few thousand forints the Orbán government coughs up. She is a wealthy woman who got even richer thanks to the good offices of the current administration.

On her blog, “Látószög” (Viewing Angle), she and a handful of other people post regularly. She herself writes at least one article a month, sometimes two. Her August piece is devoted to her favorite topic of late, Islam’s threat to Europe. The title of her article is “Israelification of Europe.”

Budapest Sentinel translated the full article, for which I’m most grateful because it has stirred up quite a controversy. I’m reprinting it below.

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Mária M. Kovács, history professor at Central European University, wrote a short article about this Schmidt piece with the ironic title: “The Bayerization of Israelization.” A year ago an article appeared in The Times of Israel by Emmanuel Heymann, a young Israeli who has written extensively on international relations, titled “The Israelization of Europe is under way.” In it he talks about waves of Muslim immigrants who “have enriched old Europe and positively transformed European societies.” But this immigration “also brought with it new challenges, most notably in integration and assimilation.” Religious enclaves in larger European cities have sprung up and many of the newcomers don’t feel part of their adopted countries. In addition, terrorism has reached the European continent and there are security concerns. Israel has had to face similar challenges throughout its existence. Perhaps now that radical Islam has reached Europe, Europeans will have more sympathy for Israel’s handling of its own problems. Israel and Europe share similar values, the values of liberal democracy, and Europe will also have to recognize that these values are incompatible with the “totalitarian political ideology of Islam.”

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelization of Europe” sends a very different message. Her Europe, as Mária M. Kovács aptly describes it, “is Zsolt Bayer’s frightening, dehumanized world full of demons.” In this world everybody is threatened by foreigners, people of other races and religions. No individuals exist in this world, only groups. And every group is homogeneous, with a common goal and common will.

Not only are the alien groups homogeneous; “the political leaders and members of the intellectual elite are also uniform.” In her view, the “whole European mainstream is made up of aberrant and mentally ill people who are so stupid that they can barely wait to be enslaved.” They want to “become victims” in order to escape from the guilt they feel for Europe’s past.

For years Zsolt Bayer has been saying almost the same thing. In Bayer’s Europe events are directed by conspirators. Immigrants who want to conquer Europe and all the European politicians, churchmen, and intellectuals who don’t share Bayer’s and Schmidt’s worldview are in effect collaborators.

“The Europe of Heymann and Schmidt don’t resemble one another. Heymann’s Europe is multi-faceted and able to handle political debate. Bayer’s and Schmidt’s Europe is led by sick, aberrant people with whom one shouldn’t, in fact mustn’t, find consensus. For Heymann the foundation of mutual understanding are the principles of liberal democracy. For Schmidt liberal democracy cannot be the foundation of understanding and empathy. The ideas of Heymann become an inexorable attack in Schmidt’s hands. She turns Heymann’s call inside out and attacks the very European and Israeli values in whose defense Heymann wrote.”

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Revisionist historian Mária Schmidt warns of the “Israelification of Europe”

Schmidt Maria3

“If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.” – Mária Schmidt, historian

Translation of Terror House director Mária Schmidt’s op-ed piece “The Israelization of Europe” posted by Látószög (Viewing Angle) on August 26th, 2016.

“If we want to be generous, we need borders.” – Paul Sheffer

When I first traveled in Israel, before the first intifada, in spite of being a blonde woman I walked alone in Jerusalem’s old town. Later, as I visited every ten years, I noticed that everyday life there became more tense, and the feeling of safety came to be in short supply. The little bus we took six years ago with friends and family for excursions in the Holy Land was stopped every 500 meters by soldiers who came on board and inspected it. The horrific security procedures at their airports have already become normal in other parts of the world. In spite of how painful it might have been for Jews who had broken out behind the closed walls of the ghetto, they had no choice but to encircle the territory of Palestine with border walls in hopes of controlling and identifying terrorists, whose ingenuity and determination grow day by day. Those who take Israeli lives with knives, with swords, with bombs, with guns. Those Muslim fanatics, who don’t value worldly life, and who believe their acts of evil to be tickets to paradise.

We are on the road to the Israelization of Europe. This is clear by now to everyone except the left-liberal elite. How and why are they anesthetizing themselves? How much will they give up to show that they are carefree, acting in good faith, and “humane”? We’ve already learned that no one is stupid for free, especially those who are used to getting paid handsomely for it. (It’s not an accident that Gerard Schröder became a lobbyist for Gazprom after he had signed an enormous contract with the company as Chancellor. It wasn’t an accident that Barroso ended up at Goldman Sachs after he had shown that he was sympathetic to their problems during the 2008 financial crisis. Tony Blair, the Clintons, the Bidens, the Kerrys, etc., all receive millions of dollars for their services as lobbyists, advisers, lecturers, or from the mandates of their sons and relatives.) I wouldn’t be surprised if in time we receive news of a new “accommodations” where one of our current “migrant-lovers” ends up in the services of Soros, or some Saudi company.

But until then let’s look a bit more thoroughly at exactly what we’re facing. Let’s try to answer the following question: Why has the West, so ashamed of its past, so effortlessly glided over Muslim colonization of a significant part of Europe which has for centuries meant threat, invasion, and the loss of millions of lives? Hungary lived for 150 years under Turkish rule, which hindered development and led to a demographic catastrophe (of 4.5 million Hungarians, only 1.5 million remained by the end of the Turkish occupation, many of which were slaves) which had to be remedied with the mass settlement here of foreign ethnicities. Spain, southern France and the Balkans were under Muslim domination for centuries. Because Islam, when it could and can, and where it could and can, came and comes as a conqueror.

“Every virtue, if taken too far, becomes immoral.” – Bernhard Vogel

Islam is one of the world’s religions. Its followers are found in every part of the world. In many places theocracy is operating at the same time as secular power. Elsewhere, following the principle of separation of church and state, they focus on moral and religious questions. In its past and present, the same kinds of acceptable and unacceptable elements are found in Islam as are found in Christianity. Why is it that Christianity has for decades been in the crosshairs of criticism, and recently on a daily basis is exposed to attacks by the advanced West, while, according to these same critics, it wouldn’t be suitable and in fact isn’t permitted to criticize Islam? In its disorientation of the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Western left-liberal intellectual elite found a new object of adoration in the Third World. They came across the Palestinians, and took them, and the whole region and Islam with them, into their patronage. They compensate with condescension their turning of a blind eye to the qualities of Islam which the Western world would not tolerate, and thus don’t consider them equal parties. This all means in practice that they use a double standard. The first is maintained for the European left, which considering the sinful nature of communism, sympathizes with all manifestations of left-wing terrorism. The other is for the “exploited” and “oppressed” Third World, where for them the denial of equal rights before the law for women and sexual minorities is no problem, nor are acts of terrorism as political pressure. This standard the other side of the political spectrum imposes on us and institutionalizes with incessant intellectual carpet bombing.

The Western elite is convinced that the turban-wearers and burnoose or robe-wearers’ minds are not developed, and that Muslims are reliant on their patronage, for which they expect gratitude. They do not presume that Muslims think in long-term strategies, and that they thoroughly plan and precisely implement their steps. The occupation of Europe is an old project of theirs, the implementation of which is launched through excessive demographic relocation, placing ideological pressure on the shoulders of the West with their conscious and aggressive political and economic power, and above all, with the threat of turning off the oil tap. They buy weapons from the West which they use against each other and against the West, and they buy cutting-edge Western technology while flooding Western cities with migrants. They use a part of this migrant community as a fifth column, as hidden terrorist cells, as pressure points, and as a political “ace-in-the-hole.” Whenever and for whatever they need to. Western progressive intellectuals are truly playing the role again of the useful idiot, as they were in service of the goals of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. If in anything, in this they are practiced.

In Hungary in 2013, 19 thousand asylum-seekers were registered. In 2014 their numbers grew to 43 thousand, and last year to 177 thousand. The numbers speak for themselves. And we aren’t even a migration destination country!

This kind of large, quickly expanding foreign community with a different culture, different language and different religion is impossible to integrate. It wouldn’t succeed even if they weren’t arriving with instructions and intentions to demand their own schools, and churches, and separate cemeteries, and ritual butchers, and community centers, so that they can keep and care for their own customs and live uninterrupted in their own closed world and develop their own communities. Of course, the accepting state would be responsible for financing all of the above. Additionally the Quran schools and prayer houses, and the preachers who are responsible for the replacement, recruitment and activation of the extremists, will be paid for in large part by the Saudis. The internet culture and social applications which support and allow separation and the exclusion and outlawing of dissent will also move toward the closing off of their own groups. With the help of their satellites they will have their own television stations, so that they can receive in their own language the ideological ammunition to shame and reject the way of life of those receiving them. No other voice reaches them, only the noise of their own group’s extremists. So they have less and less chance of integration; the majority live on welfare and stay poor. Of course, it’s not the kind of poverty they knew back home in their leaky houses, but the meaning of this will quickly slip away, since in their new homes they will have become affluent. But this standard of living will remain unattainable for most of them, because their lack of language skills or professional skills will make them incapable of getting a good and therefore well-paid job. The spirit of Western tolerance will describe a whole new generation on an ethnic or “cultural” basis while assisting in the emergence of an inferior religiously and ethnically based social class. 26 percent of Somalis, 34 percent of Iraqis, 42 percent of Afghans and 62 percent of Iranians had employment before the great migration waves. Today the statistics are even more abysmal.

“The opposite of good is good intentions.” – Kurt Tucholsky

Chancellor Merkel doesn’t fret on these questions. “We can do it!” (Wir schaffen das) she says, while thinking of what kinds of logistical steps are needed to spread all over Europe these migrants who still don’t want to assimilate. But she is indifferent to how the regularities of coexistence might be formed, because she represents the kind of Germany which is ashamed of its past, ashamed of its present and can hardly wait for, as a citizen of the globalized world, for someone, say, the Muslims to conquer them and absolve them of their Nazi past, of their eternal perpetrator status, which by themselves they are unable to let go of, unable to move past. (Adolf liked Islam too, and did business with his uncle Arafat, Chief Mufti of Jerusalem.) How great it would be, if they could finally play the role of a victim! Well, wouldn’t it be an enviable status? They don’t look for an answer to the question, that if to them Western Christian culture is worthless, because in the European Union’s proposed constitution they couldn’t even refer to it, and if Europe is not Christian anymore, then what is it? What is the community of values to which the newcomers must adapt, that they must accept, embrace? What do we require of them? How will they have to form their communities so that we will be able to live with them? Or will we adapt to them? Do they have no such duty? Where does the practice lead where we excuse the terror attacks that threaten the existence of our communities as psychological disorders? And if this doesn’t satisfy popular opinion, then comes the common mantra: that misery and the colonial past are responsible for terrorist acts. However, as they advertise it: “This is a war led by Allah between Muslim nations and the infidel, pagan nations.” The command is clear. “Kill the infidels,” as Allah said. “Then destroy the idol worshipers wherever you find them.”

We’re familiar with this spurious intellectualization. But we also know that the poor things aren’t terrorists, and they know other methods of suicide that don’t involve the destruction of others. We also learned that some people can take up arms to war and kill in God’s name, for its defense, or its diffusion. Hatred of unbelievers or followers of other faiths was not foreign to our culture in our past. Today, however, we fight religious wars in the form of culture wars, and we fiercely continue bloodless struggles. In this war, the “tolerant”, that is the left-liberal elite and their lackeys, proclaim that they don’t differentiate between cultures and values. In other words, there is only one type of culture and one type of value system, and that is theirs. With their full arsenal they propagandize that those who are arriving here have the same values, intentions and ambitions as they do, and they consider the same things useful and valuable as they do. If our values and culture are no different than theirs, then how can we expect them to adopt them? The equality of women, for example? I wonder if the Western left-liberal elite is simply stupid, or if some suicidal tendency has taken away their common sense and is spreading like an epidemic in Europe’s “credible” institutions, think tanks, universities, and in the air-conditioned left-liberal witches kitchens? And where are they coming across Soros’s dollars? The progressives have a particular tendency for guilt. They consider victims everyone who comes from a different part of the world or who has different colored skin, and they swoon that now finally they can prove how good, humane, tolerant, and multicultural they are! They look in the mirror and their very humanity looks back at them. Great! They can finally be proud. Because the Dutch, Germans, Swiss, etc. have not been able to be proud lately, because of all the sins of their ancestors. However, if they had been proud on an occasion or two of something like, say, a European Championship football match, they would have fallen immediately into the sin of nationalism, which is already almost racism, an unforgivable sin punishable by excommunication! This is how Western Europe is populated, brimming with fine good people!

The last 68-ers, the progressive party’s dying mummies.” – Houellebecq

In certain areas of Africa and the Near East, it took decades for people living there to get off their carpets and out of their tents, leave their dirt roads and cross into the age of skyscrapers, supersonic airplanes, television and internet. In a few years they had to be pulled forward centuries. This is a huge task, a burden, but also an achievement. This kind of turbo-modernization results in a state of shock, which the severing of tribal ties and forced integration into the alienating world of big cities only makes worse. Islam, in this context, provides a solid ground for those masses who end up in a disorienting world. Because Islam is law, rights and instruction. Roots and guidance. Patterns of behavior and a value system. In the context of someone coming to Europe, all of this could not be made any more important and indispensable for someone also having to deal with linguistic, racial and cultural differences. This all increases almost to the point of unbearability the identity crisis those migrants will face who left their homes for the false promise of an easy and successful life, and also for those who came by their own will. Upon arrival they will find that the kafirs, the unbelievers, the antisocial, barbaric, unclean, uncircumcised, depraved masses will not accept them. They will humiliate them with some kind of immigration procedure, they won’t give over their wives and daughters to them, the food and drink will not be what they are accustomed to, and the money they give them won’t be enough to provide them immediately with what they need to live comfortably. They will always be expecting gratitude from them everywhere, and expect that they should know what good people they are for having accepted and helped them. However, they know, and have learned, that if they were actually good people, then they would be Muslims.

In the tribal culture in which most of the influx was socialized, women are property to be bought and sold. The family, the tribe, the man’s good reputation and honor, are all dependent on the obedience and good behavior of the women in the family – meaning, her virginity and marital fidelity. This explains the practices of female genital mutilation and the death penalty for extramarital sexual relationships. Wearing of the headscarf, hijab and burka are compulsory. All of this, spiced with forced marriages and polygamy, is incompatible with the culture of gender equality practiced in the West. While the left-liberals supposedly advocate for same-sex marriage, the denial of basic human rights for sexual minorities by Muslims goes unnoticed. As does the European Jewish community, whose existence, independent of the Palestine-Israel conflict, is a thorn in their eyes. Let us not forget that most migrants’ mentality and worldview remains tribal, regardless of whether they also use 21st century technology developed in the West.

Let us note the argument of the migrant-lovers. They reference humanity, that is, morality, and at the same time demographic and labor needs. They argue that guarding the borders is impossible, and also that international laws dictate that we let everyone in. These are all lies. The fences raised on our borders meant noticeable and immediate relief from the pressure of immigration. They were forced to alter their itineraries, and the entry into Hungary’s territory became ordered, regulated, and lawful. These refute the empty dreams of the liberals that the borders are unnecessary, dreams that are contemptuous of the limits of democracy. If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.

The protection of EU borders is entrusted to Erdogan by Merkel and the union leaders panting at her heels, as they entrusted Kadhafi with Libya and Morocco, to crack down ruthlessly on African immigrants if need be. We wash our hands, and we pay. This way we stay good people and can educate everyone on democracy, humanity, and Europeanness.

I agree with Konrád György, that “after Nazism and communism, Islam is the third totalitarian ideology which seriously threatens Europe.” I also agree that “today’s refugees are not singular people who desire to be European citizens. Rather they are a faceless mass, which will in time develop into a parallel society. Along with the growth of their confidence, conflicts will also proliferate, because the Bible accepts the Quran, but the reverse is not true. Europe cannot be good and moral if it is also weak.”

The progressive intellectuals disregard all of this, without exception, and support Muslim migration. Because they feel that finally their opinion matters, and they can see themselves as important and as chosen, like they once did in the Maoist, Trotskyist and Communist movements, in the sit-down strikes and demonstrations of ’68. In the leftist salons they always spoiled that part of the intelligentsia which unscrupulously served progress, whatever class-warrior or multicultural costume they wore at the time. The progressives, who by now have become the politically correct Western mainstream, have for us caused the greatest damage by wanting to deprive us, European citizens, of our self-esteem and self-confidence. And this can hardly be approved of.

September 4, 2016

Katrina Lantos Swett returns her Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit

Népszabadság reported this morning that Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Tom Lantos Foundation and Institute for Human Rights and Justice, returned her Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit. With her gesture the number of those who expressed their disgust over the decoration of Zsolt Bayer by returning their own awards has increased to 109.

Katrina Lantos recalled that her father was the only Holocaust survivor who served in the U.S. Congress. He was a real Hungarian patriot who, despite all the tragedies he witnessed, “never lost his love for the country. For three decades he did all he could for Hungary.” She herself continued in this tradition and tried to pass the linguistic and cultural traditions of her family on to the younger generation. She was hoping to give the Knight’s Cross to her children one day and is sorry that by returning the decoration she will not have this opportunity. “The Hungarian government bestowing the Knight’s Cross to Zsolt Bayer stained this noble decoration.” She added that if her father were alive he would ask the government “to take back this unearned decoration from Bayer.” I should add that Judit Járai, the Washington correspondent for the Hungarian Telegraphic Agency (MTI), didn’t find Katrina Lantos’s announcement newsworthy.

Katrina Lantos Swett

Katrina Lantos Swett

A few words about the foundation and the institute that is being financed by the Hungarian government. Tom Lantos died suddenly in 2008, and shortly after his death it was proposed to establish a foundation and institute in his memory. But by the time the institute began to take shape there was a change of government. The new prime minister, Viktor Orbán, had had a somewhat strained relationship with Tom Lantos. The last time he asked for an interview in Washington, Lantos made him wait for three days, and at the end of the meeting there was no joint press conference. Orbán left and Lantos had a few measured words to say about their differences.

As was expected, the Tom Lantos Institute’s board was composed primarily of Fidesz faithfuls whose views were a far cry from Tom Lantos’s. For example, Maximilian Teleki of the Hungarian American Coalition based in Washington and Kinga Gál, Fidesz EP MP. The Hungarian American Coalition is a decidedly right-of-center organization that has always favored Fidesz. Just to give you an idea of their bias, here is a story in which I myself was involved. One day sometime in 2002 I read that the Coalition had paid for about 20 members of the Hungarian parliament to spend a couple of weeks in Washington to take a closer look at American democracy in action. They all turned out to be Fidesz PMs. When I asked the then president of the Coalition why they invited only Fidesz MPs, he told me that the socialists and the liberals had turned down the invitation. It was a lie, as I found out in no time from the leader of the socialist parliamentary delegation.

So, the Tom Lantos Institute has been a controversial project from the beginning, mostly because of Viktor Orbán’s insistence on making it a party foundation. After all, he must have figured, it is his government that sponsors it and therefore it is his. This is how his mind works. The fact is that the government has given a fair amount of money to the institute. The institute’s website has no detailed information about its finances. All we know is that under “Donors and partners” they list only two donors: the Hungarian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. We know that in 2009 the institute received 3 billion forints from the government to cover expenses for five years.

The staff consists of nine full-time associates, of whom five are researchers. The other four deal with finances, communication, and administrative duties. Otherwise, the focal points of the institute’s activities are “Jewish life and anti-Semitism,” “Roma rights and citizenship,” and “human and minority rights.” The institute’s publications are mostly texts of lectures delivered at conferences organized by the institute.

In 2011 Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, visited Budapest specifically for the opening of the institute. At that time I received a letter from a very reliable source who called himself “Diplomat Anonymous.” He begged Clinton not to go to Budapest. I published the letter in its entirety at that time. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s especially painful to hear that you may be coming here to bless the opening of the Tom Lantos Institute (TLI). I didn’t know the late Congressman well; we only shook hands once in Washington. But I know that he fought against prejudice, he fought for human rights. Yes, to his great credit, he cared about the Hungarian ethnic minority in the neighboring countries, and the Institute may well publish books or pamphlets on that issue. But what about media freedom here? What about anti-Semitism? Will TLI address these painful issues? I predict that it will not – it cannot — because the Orbán government authored this very restrictive media law, and it doesn’t believe there’s anti-Semitism in Hungary. As for the Roma issue, which is the most agonizing social problem here, please ask an aide to check out the background of Rita Izsák, TLI’s new Director. In the Roma community, of which she’s a member, she’s known as Uncle Tom. She will respect the wishes of the government, which, after all, is TLI’s sole financial backer.

Since then Rita Izsák has left the institute. In 2013 Anna-Mária Bíró became the new director. She hails from Transylvania, where in the 1990s she was adviser to the president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania or, as it is known in Hungarian, Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség (RMDSZ), a right-of-center party. Most of the researchers are young women. Just recently the institute hired a young Hungarian program manager for Jewish life and anti-Semitism and a publications and communications officer from New Zealand. It is hard to pass any judgment on the work the institute is doing based on the scant information that is available.

But let’s return to the president of the Hungarian American Coalition, Maximilian Teleki, who was interviewed by Népszabadság in connection with Katrina Lantos’s return of the Knight’s Cross. He expressed his astonishment at the government’s decision to give a decoration to Bayer and added that “many of us supported some if not all steps of the Fidesz government. We especially approved of their announcement of ‘zero tolerance’ against anti-Semitism. Now we ask ourselves how they are able to go against their own pledge. Two steps forward and one big one backward?” Mr. Teleki, who by the way doesn’t speak Hungarian so his knowledge of the present political situation must be limited, came to the conclusion that the political views of Jobbik and Bayer are identical. Well, just for his information, Bayer is a member of Fidesz and without the blessing of Viktor Orbán he would not be able to publish the smut he does. The members of the Hungarian American Coalition should wake up and admit to themselves that, at least since 1994, they have been supporting a party and a government which no real democrat with a modicum of conscience should. Make a clean break instead of constant excuses. It doesn’t reflect well on the Hungarian American Coalition.

September 2, 2016

Hot topics of the day: Budaházy and Ráhel Orbán

The Hungarian media was preoccupied with two topics today. The first was the reaction to the stiff sentences handed out in the case of György Budaházy and his co-conspirators, who were convicted of terrorist activities. The other was the recent discovery of mysterious “negotiations” undertaken by Ráhel Orbán, eldest child of the prime minister, and her husband, István Tiborcz, in Bahrain.

The day after the trial

As one could anticipate, the Hungarian extreme right is outraged. Jobbik’s official internet news site is full of stories of the “seventeen patriots” who were in the forefront of the “national resistance” against the traitorous Gyurcsány government. What Budaházy and his friends did in 2006-2007 was a historic act. László Toroczkai, an old friend of Budaházy who today is the Jobbik mayor of Ásotthalom at the Serbian-Hungarian border, is demanding that Fidesz take a stand on the issue.

But Fidesz refuses to make any comments on the case. The closest approximation to a comment was an opinion piece by Zsolt Bayer that appeared today in Magyar Hírlap. Bayer’s memories of terrorist acts committed by the Budaházy gang, I suspect, are purposely vague. He remembers “some kind of a video of some kind of an explosion,” but basically he can’t imagine that this gentle man could possibly commit such atrocities. He is just hoping that there is “real evidence.”

In connection with the case, Bayer poses a number of questions: “Were they really the ones who threw Molotov cocktails into the houses of politicians? Were they the ones who beat up Csintalan?” And don’t forget, “the body is missing that lay on the street in Olaszliszka* as well as the one that was lifted from the lake in Kaposvár**.” Finally, Bayer says, comes the most important question: if Budaházy received 13 years, then what about Ferenc Gyurcsány and Péter Gergényi, police chief of Budapest at the time of the 2006 disturbances? After all, they are “the two most notorious miscreants of the age.” This question must be asked because “without Gyurcsány, Gergényi (and Draskovics, Szilvásy, and Bajnai) there is no Budaházy.” In brief, the guilty ones are not Budaházy and his fellow terrorists but the governments of Gyurcsány and Bajnai. I take Bayer’s attitude toward the Budaházy case to be a reasonably close approximation to the views of the Fidesz leadership.

András Schiffer’s Facebook note “Budaházy 13 years, how many for shooting out eyes” drew appreciative comments from the right, including Fidesz sympathizers. Viktor Orbán has been trying for years to implicate Gyurcsány in the “police brutality” during the 2006 street disturbances. Up to now they have been unsuccessful. They couldn’t come up with anything to tie Gyurcsány to the police action at the time. The decision to deal with the situation was entirely in the hands of the police chief and his close associates. And even at that level, although the Orbán government brought charges against Gergényi, they couldn’t prove their case.

According to Jobbik and Fidesz supporters, what happened on the streets in 2006 was “police terror,” pure and simple. They therefore equate the “terrorism” of Gyurcsány with the terrorist acts of Budaházy and his companions. The other side, by contrast, remains convinced that the disturbances were an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of the country and that Fidesz politicians were in touch with the leaders of the mob that was supposed spark a general revolt in the population. It just didn’t work out. András Schiffer, who is allegedly a democratic politician, sided with the extreme right and Fidesz on this issue. It is no wonder that the liberals and socialists are outraged.

The most eloquent condemnation of Schiffer came from Árpád W. Tóta in HVG, according to whom “András Schiffer took a deep breath and sank to the deep where Krisztina Morvai*** resides.” Schiffer should know the difference between an accident that happens during the dispersion of a crowd and premeditated criminal acts committed in a conspiratorial manner. Tóta admits that he never had a good opinion of Schiffer, but he never thought that Schiffer was wired into the same circuit as Krisztina Morvai. I can only agree with Tóta.

Ráhel Orbán and her husband in Bahrain

I must say that Ráhel Orbán, who by now is 27 years old, gets herself into a lot of trouble, unlike her brother Gáspár and younger sister Sára. One reason is that she appears to be interested in politics. Moreover, it seems that father and daughter work together on projects. As we know, Ráhel is interested in the entertainment and tourist industry. A few months ago there was a lot of talk about the government’s centralization of the industry under an umbrella organization in which Ráhel might play a prominent role. But, and this is yesterday’s scoop, it seems that Ráhel might also have been given an unofficial diplomatic assignment.

444.hu discovered an article on the website of Bahrain’s National Oil & Gas Authority (NOGA) with accompanying photos showing the Minister of Energy Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan, the general-secretary of NOGA, Ms. Ráhel Orbán, mistakenly identified as the wife of the prime minister of Hungary, and Balázs Garamvölgyi, the Hungarian consul in Bahrain. István Tiborcz, also in the picture, was not identified in the caption. This visit took place in September 2015. According to the article

They discussed a number of global oil and gas market and energy issues (…) investment opportunities and expanding economic and trade ties between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Hungary. They discussed the benefit to the national economy in both friendly countries from improved cooperation.

Ms. Orban and her accompanying delegation expressed their deep appreciation to H.E. Dr. Mirza and thanked him for the warm reception and issues discussed, which were aimed at creating a sustainable business environment and helping build new trade and investment bridges between the two countries that will enhance the economic interests of both. They wished every success to the Kingdom for further development and prosperity.

The press department of the prime minister’s office had no information on Ráhel Orbán’s trip to Bahrain. A few hours later, however, Ráhel Orbán in her usual arrogant style released a statement saying that “between September 17 and 20, 2015 my husband and I paid a private visit to Barhrain [sic]. We paid for all expenses. All other claims are lies,” I guess even NOGA’s press release. Diplomacy is not her strength. Father and daughter express themselves forcefully. Of course, this answer is no answer at all. No one claimed that it was the Hungarian government that paid for their trip. The issue is her involvement in negotiations with Bahrain’s minister of energy.

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Panic must have set in government circles after the revelations of 444.hu and word must have reached the politicians in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, because by now the objectionable text about negotiations has disappeared and has been replaced by the following:

Minister of Energy His Excellency Dr. Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza received in his office at the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) on a courtesy visit, the daughter of Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary Ms. Rahel Orban, accompanied by the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary to the Kingdom of Bahrain Mr. Balazs Garamvolgyi, in the presence of Dr. Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan, the NOGA General Secretary.

H.E. Dr. Mirza welcomed the distinguished visitors in the Kingdom of Bahrain and gave a brief overview of the economy of Bahrain.

Ms. Orban and the accompanying guests expressed their deep appreciation for H.E. Dr. Mirza, and thanked him for the warm reception.

They wished every success to the Kingdom for further development and prosperity.

Journalists at Index had a lot of fun with Balázs Garamvölgyi, who gave “probably the best mini-interview of his life” because he conveniently forgot what he was doing in Bahrain. As he said, “it was last September and I really no longer remember.” But one thing HírTV managed to learn: Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, had no knowledge of any official trip undertaken by Ráhel and her husband to Bahrain.

István Tiborcz definitely needs a new suit and Ráhel a new dress

István Tiborcz definitely needs a new suit and Ráhel a new dress

The latest piece of news is that one month after Ráhel Orbán’s visit to Bahrain a delegation from MOL, an international oil and gas company headquartered in Budapest, paid a visit to Abdul Hussein bin Ali Mirza, minister and head of the National Oil and Gas Authority. Garamvölgyi, who seems to have miraculously recovered from amnesia, insists that the two visits had absolutely nothing to do with one another. Of course not. The author of the blog “Most és Itt” (Now and Here) told this story in the form of a fairy tale (“The little royal princess Ráhel in Bahrain”). Most adults no longer believe in fairy tales just as we don’t believe that the two events had nothing to do with one another. Let’s finish this story with the customary last line in Hungarian fairy tales: “Itt a vége, fuss el véle.” Here is the end, run with it.

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*Olaszliszka was the town where a group of Roma killed a man driving through town because they thought that a little girl had been killed by his car.

**A reference to the brutal murder of a little boy whose body was thrown into a lake near Kaposvár in 2012.

***Krisztina Morvai began her career as a liberal civil rights lawyer but eventually ended up as a fiercely anti-Semitic member of Jobbik. Currently she represents the party in the EU Parliament.

August 31, 2016

Zsolt Bayer: “I have no illusions”

This is a lightly edited version of the English translation of an interview with Zsolt Bayer. The translation is the work of the staff of the Budapest Sentinel.

♦ ♦ ♦

“In 1967 the Jewish journalists of Budapest insulted Israel. Today the same Budapest Jewish journalists are insulting Arabs. And Fidesz. And us. Because they hate us more than we them. They are our reason-Jews (Ők a mi indok-zsidóink) – by which I mean that their mere existence justifies antisemitism . . . And we just sit on the edge of the pool, and we don’t even understand that the footrace is on the beach.” – Zsolt Bayer, from his op-ed piece titled “A medence és környéke” (“The pool and its environs”) appearing in Magyar Hírlap in 2008, in which the Fidesz publicist recounts how a “great Hungarian writer” who was criticized by a fellow bather for blowing his nose openly in a public bath had accused his detractor of being an anti-Semite.

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Translation of András Stumpf’s interview with controversial Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer, appearing in pro-government website mandiner.hu on August, 26th, 2016 under the title “They are right. I’m finished.” Bayer was recently awarded Hungary’s third highest state award: the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. To date some 95 Hungarian notables have returned the award in protest.

Zsolt Bayer claims he is abandoning the vulgar and rude publicist writings. The journalist decorated with the Knight’s Cross tells Mandiner: now is the time for him to rise to the responsibility that goes with the award. In response to our request, he initiates us into the cultural etymological background of the crassest Bayer scolding and talks about his relationship to Jews. This is the first time Bayer talks about his ancestors’ past, his grandfather who was a member of the Arrow Cross and then a member of the secret police under Communism. What he sees around him in 2016 is not what he envisaged in 1988. According to Bayer, he and his generation failed in the construction of a politically aware middle-class Hungary. He is curious to see what the new generations will achieve, but he has no illusions. Our in-depth interview.

Is the small object here that moved eighty of its twins back to János Áder?

Of course.

Can we see it?

Sure. Here it is.

It’s a beautiful piece of work. Do you know when and how you are supposed to wear it?

I think I’m only supposed to wear this small one. If I were to wear the large one I would look like some Soviet general under Brezhnev.

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Apart from the fact that it’s pretty, what is this Knight’s Cross good for? It tells us that Fidesz likes Zsolt Bayer and also that a lot of people hate Zsolt Bayer. Neither is new. And it didn’t come with money, right?

No. But in spite of that I would not belittle it, although that is fashionable, especially in journalist circles. I was awed to receive it and I’m going to hold it in esteem. As for what it’s worth? That’s all. It’s good feeling.

Just as the left liberals decorated by Gyurcsány felt good getting their own Knight’s Cross.

Yes.

Isn’t that what party foundation prizes are for? For everyone to decorate their own favorites? In other words, what is the state doing here? Why does it decorate Gyurcsányist and Orbánist publicists?

I won’t be able to answer that question.

All right. Have you read the letter of congratulations sent to you by Mazsihisz (Hungarian Alliance of Jewish Organizations)?

Yes.

It was witty, wasn’t it?

Yes, at least there was a twist in it. So much so that I got a bunch of text messages and telephone calls when it appeared: “Did Mazsihisz really congratulate you?” Well, children, read it! Many only got as far as the title.

We read it. They wrote that they support your award because this way you would be happier and you won’t vomit so much bile. Every year there is a bet that you will cease being a political publicist. Wouldn’t this be the year for it?

Yes. Very much so. So much that a friend of mine who cannot be named here, whose opinion I hold in high regard . . .

Shall we just call him Zsolt Semjén?

I don’t deny our friendship of nearly 40 years—Zsolt and I started at the Szilágyi Erzsébet Gimnázium, 500 meters from here as the crow flies. But in any case I’m not talking about him, but the person in question is also a well-known individual. He wrote: “You know that you didn’t get it for your obscenities. The Knight’s Cross obliges.”

You didn’t send him a “f_ck your wh_re mother” short message?

No, because he’s right. What he wrote is worth consideration.

Especially right here. Dezső Kosztolányi moved into the house where you live 100 years and some months ago . Márai lived one address over.

That’s right. The second greatest work of Hungarian poetry, “Morning Drunkenness,” was written here. Logodi Street is right behind us. So I won’t argue. He is right. It’s just that I had a misconception. Not on the level of an elaborate theory, of course. For me it is much more natural than that: it is basically very easy to upset me. In writing, on the road, while driving. This is a bad quality. In any case, I often thought that if they are allowed to do it, then I can too. That I would speak about them the same way they speak about others. The spirit of Márai and Kosztolányi linger here, and here is the Knight’s Cross also—so that I have to put an end to that. Ought to.

Nobody would have thought that Mazsihisz’s sarcastic congratulations would come true, but there you go!

Not exactly. They wrote that I am unhappy, and that now I will be happy, and for that reason I will mend my ways. By contrast, the situation is that I have never been unhappy in my entire life. Apart from adolescent love pains, with the exception of the divorce, I have never felt bad, and I have always managed to avoid great unhappiness. Those who know me know that I am a jovial guy who likes to party, to talk, who’s good to drink with—true, I say the latter with trepidation because now comes their classic obsession that I am an alcoholic. I once sued them for that, but the judge said that this falls under freedom of expression. Even that did not make me unhappy.

As a happy person where does the apocalyptic vision of Europe, the West and the world in your writings come from? Or, is that simply the Bayer role?

No. It may seem that the two matters should depend on one another, but they don’t. I am mainly pessimistic about the world, especially with regard to the future of the European Union, that’s true. As to what is the basis for this? I am a child of the Kádár period, but thanks to familial good fortune I grew up with a 3,000-volume library—when that was not fashionable. This had a deep effect on me. As it did on Ortega.

He talks about them a lot.

Of course. The joys of reading happened precisely during the most receptive period of my youth. At best the ideological effects abate with time as a man gets wiser. But I have noticed with some horror that . . .

. . . that you are not getting wiser?

That reality confirms what they wrote about.

In other words, let’s say the foundation was built on ideological readings about the twilight of the West. When you traveled in the West, did you really see such bad conditions?

Austria, Germany, France . . . I traveled in all three countries recently. I recommend to anyone to go only to Vienna, Schönbrunn (the summer palace of the Habsburgs-transl.). What one sees in the park is really apocalyptic . . . At one point, when I was still the favorite of the other side, such a talent who had not been born for forty—not 40, four hundred!—years, I was approached by a Swiss weekly paper.

That was in the early 1990s when you worked for (left wing print daily) Népszabadság, right?

Right. So a Swiss newspaper asked me to write for it. Many of us freshly liberated young titans were approached to write regularly about our experiences of the system change. I wrote about black-toothed, cracked black-finger-nailed people getting off at the Zürich train station with plastic bags, then the rotund citizens who grew up in Western prosperity obviously looked askance at them. At us. Excuse me. The reason their nails are black is not because we are stupid, primitive animals, but because this was our fate. In any case, we will try very hard to become like them, since this is our desire as well. I wrote that 30 years ago. However East-Central Europe hasn’t caught up. We improved a bit, of course: in the 1970s and 80s we could tell what side of the border we were on by the fact that if you went into a pub here you were walking in piss up to your knees. A few hundred meters over there were peasants in rubber shoes—who just happened to live in Burgenland—and they could still eat off a toilet seat cover. Today if you go from the Keleti (Eastern Train Station-transl.) to Graz and get off at the main train station, you don’t see any difference. Thirty years ago the difference was night and day. My eldest son studied there, so I traveled there a lot, and I know. There is dirt, stink, feces in the street. In Austria!

The reason?

The reason in large part is ourselves. Probably it was not that it occurred to the citizens of Graz who had been living there for many hundreds of years that it is better to shit in the street, but rather that we went there, we Easterners, and we shat there. We were the West’s first encounter with the dark empire on the other side of the wall. The people of East-Central Europe. Vienna took the brunt of it because it was the nearest. There was a period when the swans simply disappeared from the lakes of the Schönbrunn park. After a while upstanding Romanians ate them on the grounds that necessity knows no laws. That was when the Austrians slapped their foreheads and thought that maybe it would not be a bad idea to reintroduce obligatory visas.

What you represent today in the migration matter—don’t come here poor strangers with strange habits—, is that what the Austrians should have done then? They shouldn’t have admitted us? Would it have been good if we had remained behind the iron curtain?

Looking at the story for a moment from the Austrian point of view, it would have been thoroughly understandable. From a Hungarian point of view it would have been deeply outrageous, as the crowds were not homogeneous. Hungary was different from Ceauşescu’s Romania.

I know. I traveled around Syria in 2008. I had a chance to see that country’s citizens from up close. It was a wonderful place. On the surface, by the way, the parallel is really good.

At that time we also arrived in the West as a horde, and then we besmirched the Mariahilfer Straße. How were the respected Austrians to know that it was not me who came to steal, because there was a pitifully small amount of schillings in my pocket? They didn’t know. They treated us as a homogeneous mass.

Just as you are treating the migrants today?

For the most part. Of course, I don’t not think either that the millions who left the Middle East for Europe are all potential murderers and terrorists. There are many who are, in fact, running for their lives. Others would simply like a better life for themselves—you can’t really fault them for that, it’s a rather natural human effort.

People also left Hungary in the 1980s even though they no longer feared for their lives. My aunt, for example, in 1982. For us, let’s say, it was easy: in ’46 three-quarters of the Bayer family was deported, and in this way if any of us arrived in Germany there was a place to go, and after half a year we received citizenship. So, I understand people’s desire to move away from an unlivable place. But for the love of God, let us distinguish and examine who is arriving! Simple common sense and Christian spirit makes this self-evident.

And yet it doesn’t for some reason.

There is a huge difference. At the moment the circumstances simply do not make it possible for people to make the distinction. This is hugely painful, but when a horde of millions arrives, a significant number of whom are not willing to minimally cooperate, and when we know that in the million-strong horde there are those who are being sent to destroy our lives, that rather resembles war. In war there is no time or opportunity to talk to everyone to find out what they would like, where they were born, where their skilled worker certificate is. There is no time and there is no method. In such situations the question is always what a person sacrifices. This is not a question of choosing between good and evil. There are those who say, I will sacrifice my security, the security of my children, and my accustomed way of life because that is the humanitarian demand that I accept everyone.

There is not only a political side, but there is a man whom you called a demented old man or villain who says the same thing.

The Pope. Yes. We will return to him. In any case, there are those, including me, who say: there is no situation in which I will sacrifice the security of my family or those conditions in which I live as someone who has grown up in a European cultural environment. And let us not forget either that the migration wave, which we can call the migration of an entire people, reaches Europe, which is in a tragic demographic shape. The European people have lost two basic instincts: race preservation and the instinct for self-preservation. This is especially true in Western Europe. If a migrational challenge of this size affects a civilization in such a state, it is easy to see that the civilization is not able to survive. This is what the choice is about.

Honestly, do you fear terrorists? More than before?

I just had an opportunity to measure this, and I can state with certainty: yes.

What happened?

Three weeks ago my middle son told me he would pop over to France with his three best friends. We sat here with “his mother” and mulled over what to do. Here is a normal kid to whom I’ve never said “no” because I didn’t have to, and still I have to say no to him because I cannot allow him to go. He is too blond for that. Perhaps my fears are baseless and it won’t happen. But if it were to happen, if an Arab were to stab him “just for fun,” that would be more weight than I could bear.

And your kid didn’t go?

No. Instead they got the keys to the Balaton holiday home for a week with permission to destroy the house, puke on the walls, do whatever they want. Which is fortunate, but at the same time astonishing: all the other parents drew the same conclusion in relation to the Paris trip.

Maybe they read too much Zsolt Bayer!

Maybe! But joking aside, I say that writing is a responsibility, it has an effect; but for sure, the parents of those murdered in Bataclan are not terrified because a Hungarian publicist wrote this or that in Budapest. They are terrified because their children were murdered. It would be valuable to ask them how great the danger actually is. In Budapest, which today is still safe, I am pondering over the same dilemma. How is it possible to live like this? In 2016 I didn’t allow my child to go to Paris? We’re talking about Paris, not Somalia, damn it!

When you call the migrant-supporter Pope a villain, does your friend (Christian Democratic People’s Party chairman-transl.) Zsolt Semjén call you up and tell you not to do that, or is he loyal to Orbán?

I think he doesn’t make an issue of it. His Catholic belief is unquestionable. He remains loyal to Rome and the Pope and, what is more, he tries to live according to the commandments. He is not in the habit of avoiding such major conflicts as this. In the migrant question there is really a contradiction, but in political questions the Pope is not infallible. Only in matters of faith. The expressly brutal thing indeed I wrote about the Pope, by the way, pertained to a concrete situation when he said it in connection with the murdered French priest. That he does not want to deal with it much, as there is no religious dimension to this because there were times Catholics murdered their neighbors. I was outraged by this. I had no words for it. Rather there were, but only those.

Would being a publicist be too boring if you weren’t to attack other persons? If you were not to write that he’s a villain, but that he is speaking nonsense? If someone else were not to write that Zsolt Bayer is a fascist piece of sh_t, but let’s say it is stupidity what he writes, for this and that reason . . . ?

You are completely right. I am making a large, solemn vow right here and now under the influence of the awards and such. I will try to rise to the task. I am finished with the kind of publicizing to which you refer.

Wow! Still, just in case this is not still the case five years from now, will you permit me to ask more questions on the issue of obscenity?

Go right ahead!

You have a standing image. A repeating element to your online comments. Your debate partner’s smelly and whore mother who blows a stray dog in front of a pub for a (sometimes small, other times large) wine spritzer. Is this some kind of secret message?

No.

Still, how does something like this come to mind?

Okay, I’ll tell you. But then I need to start at the beginning.

That doesn’t bother us one bit.

Characteristic of every nation is how it swears. The unfortunate Germans, for example, say “Scheiße.” And they faint. For them that’s it. The Anglo-Saxons go a bit farther, the “son of a bitch” and “motherfucking,” but then they stop. I say with some trepidation, by the way, that if the German people had been able to call one another’s mothers whores over the period of a thousand years, then perhaps there would not have been Auschwitz. I know, this is not a scientific fact and it cannot be verified, but it usually comes to mind that the repression and the fact that the worst the Germans say is Scheiße is connected to the horrors of the death camps. Which, by the way, were operated virtually emotionlessly nearly in the same way. Stamp, registration number, annihilate a people . . . In other words, the world might have been better off if they had embellished on “Scheiße.”

We know.

Yes, but there is a nation that surpasses us. That possesses such atavistic swear words that even to Hungarian ears it attains unreachable heights.

Some exotic people in South America?

The Romanians.

My poor knowledge is limited to “Sugi pula!”

Ahhh! that is a simple “blow me!” That’s nothing. There is, for example, “Futus morti mati!”

What’s that?

“F_ck your dead mother!”

Jesus!

Right?

Uhh. Even my photographer colleague has stopped clicking photos.

So, yes. Even we feel the need to tone it down a bit.

In other words, your trips to Transylvania inspired the later recurring brutal comments?

Yes. Of course I never plan beforehand what I am going to write, only if in the comments, which I rarely look at, I read comments about my mother or who am I, then I become agitated and I write what comes out. This came out. What is strange that half way through I always knew: I really shouldn’t write this. I held my finger over the “enter” button, “Zsolt, don’t press it.” But then the little devil won. Now I urgently need to break that habit.

On the subject of obscenity you have already mentioned Auschwitz. The Washington Holocaust Museum, Mazsihisz, and Slomó Köves as well are outraged over your decoration because you write words that smack of antisemitism . . .

They are not in the habit of being so subtle. Zsolt Bayer is an antisemite. That’s it.

Are you not?

No.

Then this is the time for you to explain your relationship to Jewish people!

I stand before it.

Let’s first consider the basics. During your childhood was the Jewish-non Jewish issue a theme at home in your family?

Not one bit. In fact, I am the descendent of a German family—true that someone immediately writes anonymously in Kurucinfo that this might be true on my father’s side of the family, but that my mother’s side is Jewish . . .

They did the same with Péter Esterházy, even though if anyone could perfectly document his aristocratic ancestry, it was he.

Our ancestry is so well documented that I can share with them the sad news that I am also a German through my mother’s side of the family, just that on that side they Hungarianized the name Glöckner to Gyimes. By the way , I am also a descendent and a relative of the Vesztergombi wine making family. There was a love child that a Vesztergombi, a carpenter, produced. He raised him, but he never took his name. That is where the name Glöckner branches off. My mother’s grandfather, on the other hand, lived far away in Nagykanizsa. We rarely met him. On the other hand, everybody in the Bayer branch constantly overcompensated in the “Jewish matter,” so much so that I did not even hear the word until I attended high school at the age of 14.

What were they compensating for?

One of my grandfather’s brothers was a member of the Volksbund. He was punished for it and suffered serious wounds, but the compensation comes from that.

The topic, be it pro or contra, never came up in your intellectual family in Buda?

I was not born to an intellectual family in the classical sense.

Your father was a cameraman, wasn’t he?

Yes. He started as an assistant cameraman on “The Stars of Eger.” Then he filmed all the big children’s films—“Mirr-Murr,” “The Adventures of Misi the Squirrel.” His pedigree was not good, moreover they called him Ottmár: so, he didn’t go to college. When, as a working man, he asked at the film factory whether he could go to college, they told him: of course, no problem, you just have to join the party tomorrow. He considered this a big enough obstacle. And he didn’t become a college graduate.

On your mother’s side, what was there to compensate for?

I have never spoken about this before.

So, there was something.

Yes. But I only learned of it recently. Obviously it was among the family’s best kept secrets. My mother’s grandfather. The story of Dr. Károly Gyimes.

Did you know him personally?

Of course! As I said, he lived in Nagykanizsa. He was the medical head of the dispensary. He never took radiology seriously. He never used the protective apron, and for this reason died of leukemia at the age of 61. But I knew him well until the age of ten. I have only good memories of him. Nagykanizsa was far then–six hours by train–but I loved him. He had a pre-war apartment with 4 meter high ceilings and always had breaded pork chops. Moreover, each summer he rented a summer house in Balatonfenyves. We were there with him, grandchildren . . . It was wonderful. Then, well after he died, certain things came to light . . .

Like what?

First that he joined the Arrow Cross in 1944. That in Kiskőrös he was the ghetto doctor. After the war he was deported. He was severely beaten in 60 Andrássy Street, then he hid, which is how he ended up in Nagykanizsa.

How did he come to be admitted to the Terror House, and how did he leave?

The same way. Someone returning from Auschwitz reported my grandfather as the ghetto Arrow Cross doctor. Just differently, as other Jews returning from Auschwitz wrote to Gábor Péter: Dr. Károly Gyimes should be released, because as much as possible he issued medical notes that the person in question was in too bad shape to be transported. So, he protected them. An Arrow Cross ghetto doctor protected the Jews . . . I have the documents for this. Gábor Péter received a lot of letters like this. Surviving Jews got my grandfather out of Andrassy 60.

How long have you know about this?

10 years.

Your Arrow Cross grandfather still managed to be a head doctor during Kádárism?

So, that’s it. Now comes the twist, which I’ve only known for eight or nine months. Although my uncle and his son always insinuated it, but I said it was ridiculous. Then I requested the documents. Sure enough, there was a price for his position. My grandfather was recruited as an agent. He was a III/III. To his death. Here are the reports. I requested them from the Historical Authority.

What does the infamous, determinedly judgmental publicist say about this man? A criminal? A victim?

The reports are neutral, but I don’t want to make excuses for him. Perhaps both. I sense the good and bad things he did, his foibles and good qualities, which cancelled each other out. In such cases, it is not always possible for a person to be categorical, and I am not the God Almighty who is able to pass judgment. This is a strange and difficult story.

You practically founded Fidesz in 1988 in opposition to your grandfather.

Absolutely.

By that time you had met with the term “Jew”?

Of course. Obviously we were bombarded with the Second World War from the eighth grade on, so we knew what happened. But during the Kádár period it did not carry the same weight. They taught, and we knew, what terrible things happened, but it did not penetrate to the bone. Of course what could penetrate to the bone from history at 14 years of age when you are just looking at, my God, what breasts Zsuzsa has even though last year she didn’t have any? My meeting with the Jewish people took place at the Szilágyi Erzsébet Gymnasium.

You stated that the offspring of the remains of the Horthy middle class mixed with the middle-class children of the Kádár era there.

This is true. The father of my first love, for example, was such a high-ranking military officer that when I went to visit, a soldier asked for my documents at the gate. I sensed that the relationship would not last long, even though she was quite a girl. György Hölvényi, who is the co-chair of the European Parliament’s work group on religious dialogue and a member of the European Parliament, was also a classmate of mine. He defected while still a gymnasium student. He forgot to come home from a student exchange program. People from the Ministry of the Interior came and started shouting at us for supposedly knowing that our friend wanted to defect. We didn’t know, but I was terrified that they would expel us. Finally, the principal stood up and ordered the people from the Ministry of the Interior out of the school, even though she was a real member of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party. On the other hand, we adored Uncle Laci Decker, the PE teacher. Then in 1990 I saw a documentary film about 1956. Uncle Laci was one of the speakers. It was at that time that we learned that he was an army officer who got involved in the revolutionary events. So, he was only tolerated as a PE teacher. This is how mixed both the faculty and the student body were.

We still haven’t gotten to the topic.

Oh yes. In high school four of us became great friends. (Zsolt) Semjén, Barnabás Szabó Sipos, who was known as Doctor Ross, and someone else we will call Ervin, if our youth was lived in the milieu of Antal Szerb’s “Passenger and Moonlight.”

Who were you among the characters?

We continuously changed rules, only Éva Ulpius was fixed, she was my first real love. We dated for five years, through the end of high school. But everyone was in love with her. Our friend, whom we now only call Ervin, at the time wore a star of David around his neck. That was in 1977 when it was not fashionable. I knew from my joy of reading what that meant, and once I even asked. He said, yes, he’s a Jew. We left it at that. When after that we went around to each other’s houses, after a while it became apparent that I never went to their place. I asked him once. He shifted from one foot to another, and finally said, “Listen, you are a German. My mother says that a German cannot set foot in our house.”

Were you insulted?

I didn’t understand. Of course, I understood that his mother did not like the Nazis who murdered part of her family. Perhaps she doesn’t like Germans. But still what the hell does somebody born in 1963 have to do with this?! Then the thing soon got resolved, and to this day I have an excellent relationship with Ervin’s mother, and I go to her place whenever I want. Aunt Éva is almost my stepmother.

Didn’t Éva or Ervin say anything after your “They are our reason- Jews” article,” that you shouldn’t do this, Zsolt?

No. In fact, in 2002 when we had just lost the elections, many of us were sitting in our old hangout, the Café Pierrot. Of the foursome, three of us were there. At one point someone said that “I would say something about Ervin, but because of you I won’t say it.” Ervin produced his gold chain: the Star of David wasn’t on it. He said we shouldn’t think that the reason for this was that he was afraid. But that in this situation he had nothing to do with this. Everything that is beyond this is a no man’s land. The assumptions and accusations against me do not exist in reality. I never met “a Jew,” I always met people. Do you remember the paper entitled Kurír?

Yes.

I was studying history and Hungarian at college when I already worked at the Kurir for a monthly wage. I was overwhelmed by the honor. A man named Gábor Szűcs was the editor-in-chief. One morning we ran into each other in the corridor and he called me: “Hey, young Bayer, are you a Jew?” I told him that I wasn’t. “Young Bayer, that is not possible, you are so talented!” I just looked at him incomprehensibly. Must the two necessarily go together? It is certain that he meant well, and there was nothing at stake, he just intended it as friendly banter—and still the conversation remained with me for my entire life. I never cared about the origin of the person who spoke nicely or philosophically, or shouted insults. I have never attacked anyone because the person in question was a Jew. On the other hand, I have experienced that if the person in question is a Jew, he immediately takes refuge in that. That the reason I am attacking him is due to antisemitism. This nightmare came with the system change. That’s when this turned deadly serious: and when this also became a subject on which you had to take a stand. Mihály Kornis told me this personally over the telephone. If I don’t stand with them, that is the same as if I opposed them. In other words, that I’m a Nazi. I just stood there with the telephone in my hand. From here there is really nowhere to go.

But there was a place to go. You overreacted and claimed that the Jewish journalists of Budapest verified antisemitism. If the left-liberals were unjust, then I will be unjust as well, and I hit them where it hurts. Do we understand it correctly?

If there is a spiritual background to this, then without a doubt this is it.

And everyone points to the other: you hated first. I just hated back.

Exactly. Everyone has his favorite expression.

Many happen to have a Bayer saying.

Yes. For me it is Mihály Kornis, that they hate us more than we hate them, and also from Miklós Tamás Gáspár a “Free Democratic Alliance majority, or foot odor and the boonies.” But as I said: as a bearer of the Knight’s Cross I will try to rise above these things.

In that case, tell me whether this is the country and the right wing after six years of Fidesz governance that you would have liked to see?

I cannot say anything that danced before my eyes in 1988 when we founded Fidesz currently exists. Nothing.

Oops!

Okay, let’s remove from the equation the basic material things, that the border guards don’t look in the rear of my car when I want to go to Austria—although that isn’t even true anymore. Because now they look again. Let’s take out the fact that now it is possible to get cold beer and warm sausages, whereas previously it was the other way around. And let’s add that to the balance the matter of the Hungarians living the neighboring countries, for whom there is finally a tangible result. But apart from this, nothing.

What were you expecting when you founded Fidesz?

First, that they would arrest us for sure. They won’t keep us inside for long, because after all this was a lukewarm Kádárism, so I calculated that after one or two months we would be released and that I would defect. This was my model. When this small group first entered parliament and Tamás Deutsch called me away from Kurír to be the chief press officer of the parliamentary delegation, I started to believe that there is a point to dreaming. That we are building a new country! That Tina Turner and Sándor Csoóri will both fit on our shelves, that we are closing and moving beyond the old, bountiful cretinism, confrontation, narrow-mindedness, that we were moving past the village versus city confrontation that has poisoned us for a hundred years. What came of it is what we have today. Look around! We are just as narrow-minded as László Németh and Lajos Hatvany. We are bathing in their narrow-mindedness which wreaks of saliva, in which we are swimming as best we can.

It is as though the socialist party state is returning. Not the III/III of course, but the principle of “loyalty in place of accomplishment over everything, and if you are with us, then it doesn’t matter what you’ve done,” with which they distribute economic, ambassadorial or even media positions . . . 

Maybe. If that is the case, then it is sad and needs to change. I have no personal experience in the matter, because it was quickly apparent that I was not to become a politician. Given how spontaneous I am, it is certain that I would have started fighting. I would have made a wonderful little Ukrainian parliament. Allow me to boast that I was perhaps never hired because I had good political connections. What you mention is deeply East-Central European. This evolved over many hundreds of years and cannot be understood independently of our history and our popular spirit. Look at Michael Kohlhass. He experiences insult and injustice, and what does he do? He goes to every official forum and only sets everything on fire when the final dealings with authority result in failure. By contrast, what does our folk hero, Lúdas Matyi, do? He grabs a stick and takes revenge because he knows that there is no legal way for him to hold accountable those who are more powerful. These are two contradictory mentalities. The civil world and the non-civil world. It has been in our genes for centuries.

Allegedly, originally you fought for a bourgeois society that is not ruled by friends, lords, or Döbrögis (Lúdas Matyi’s tormentor). Have you struggled in vain?

I don’t know. I would not deny my generation the credit for getting rid of Kádárism and for at least creating this illusory freedom. But my generation has failed in other things. Failed. Perhaps we made a bit of progress, but we cannot get the country to the desired civil milieu. True, that civil milieu doesn’t exist in the West any more, only in memory. Let’s see how far those that follow us get. Let’s say that I have no illusions.

August 28, 2016

Zsolt Bayer, the purveyor of hate, in his own words

Decent, democratic Hungarians are stunned. The hate-filled, racist, anti-Semitic journalistic hack, Zsolt Bayer, on the recommendation of Zoltán Balog, received the third highest decoration the government can bestow on people of great achievement. János Lázár presented Bayer with the “Hungarian Middle Cross.”

The independent media could scarcely find words to display its disgust with the government, but some headline writers rose to the occasion. One headline read “By mistake Zsolt Bayer received the cross of the knight [lovagkereszt] instead of the Swastika.” Swastika in Hungarian is “horogkereszt.” A blog writer at Népszabadság titled his piece “The knight of the Godfather” since Viktor Orbán and Bayer are old friends and fellow founders of Fidesz.

Instead of trying to describe Bayer’s “literary output,” I think it’s best to let Bayer speak for himself. I will be only his English voice. In the past, every time I wrote about Bayer I always said how difficult it is to translate his prose. For starters, Hungarian obscenity beats American obscenity by a mile. Moreover, I hate to repeat this smut.

The first time I discussed Bayer at some length was in January 2011 shortly after András Schiff, the world-renowned pianist, wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post. Bayer retorted with an article titled “The same stench.” Here are a few lines from that piece.

A stinking excrement called something like Cohen from somewhere in England writes that ‘foul stench wafts’ from Hungary. Cohen, and Cohn-Bendit, and Schiff. Népszava appears with the red figure of the man with the hammer and demands freedom of the press. Most people think that this is something new and that war like that didn’t take place before. Nonsense. There is nothing new under the sun. Unfortunately, they were not all buried up to their necks in the forest of Orgovány.

A brief explanation. Orgovány, a small village on the Great Plains, was the site of massacres committed by the leaders of the Hungarian White Terror in 1919-1920. Most of the victims were Jewish. In plain language, Bayer is expressing his sorrow that not all the Jews were killed in those days.

Zsolt Bayer, leading the Peace March in Hungarian Guard uniform

Zsolt Bayer, leading the Peace March in Hungarian Guard uniform

A year later he got angry because Ulrike Lunacek, an Austrian MP in the European Parliament, criticized Hungary. Bayer, who at the time had a program on Echo TV, had the following to say about Lunacek in the company of two other right-wingers:

Then comes a half-witted [The Germans translated it as ‘brain amputeed’] impetiginous lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, and I expressed myself delicately … The whole rotten filthy lie from the mouth of a rotten filth bag.” In choice Hungarian: “Csak jön egy olyan agyament ótvar hazug idióta, Ulrike Lunacek, és milyen finoman fejeztem ki magam. … Az egész egy rohadt szemét hazugság egy rohadt szemét szájából.”

In 2013 Bayer wrote another hateful piece in which, although he didn’t use the word “Jew” or “Jewish,” anyone who is familiar with Bayer’s style and way of thinking knows whom he has in mind when he talks about those who have been doing their best to ruin the white Christian race ever since the 1919 Soviet Republic, which in far-right circles is considered to be a “Jewish affair.” Those who are antagonistic toward Hungary organize themselves “in packs and attack their victims like loathsome drooling hyenas.” And he continues: “For you only death is the proper punishment. Because you believe in death, in public executions while your victims are left alone, go bankrupt, their friends deny them, they lose their jobs, and come to a sorry end. This is your goal.” Their sins are immeasurable and they will be punished. Because these mysterious people don’t realize “what monster [they] are trying to resuscitate. In fact, [they] woke him up already.” All that sounds pretty threatening, but then comes the twist:

You don’t foresee yet that it will be only we who raise our voices in your defense. We, the marked victims. We are the only ones to whom you can turn for help. It will be only we who will hide you. Because we are good to the point of ruining ourselves. And take this all very seriously. You miserable ones.

In January 2013, in Berlin, Zoltán Balog proudly outlined the accomplishments of the Orbán government as far as its Roma strategy was concerned. Bayer wrote that

a significant portion of the Gypsies are unfit for coexistence. Not fit to live among human beings. These people are animals and behave like animals. … If he finds resistance, he kills. He voids where and when it occurs to him. … He wants what he sees. If he doesn’t get it, he takes it and he kills…. From his animal skull only inarticulate sounds come out and the only thing he understands is brute force… There shouldn’t be animals. No way. This must be solved, immediately and in any way. [In Hungarian: “Ezt meg kell oldani–de azonnal és bárhogyan.”]

This particular article was deemed to be racist, and the state media authority fined Magyar Hírlap, where it appeared, 200,000 forints. Since then Magyar Hírlap had to pay another fine, this time 250,000 forints, because he called all refugee boys over the age of 14 “potential terrorists.”

When it comes to the migrants, Bayer usually dwells on horror stories, like the IKEA murder in Sweden, which then gives him an opening to blame liberalism for being the source of all the trouble. For example, he expresses his sorrow that the two suspects cooperated with the police because otherwise “the police could have shot them as one does a mad dog.” Now the Swedes have two murderers from Eritrea and two dead white Swedes. “Surely, the exchange was worth it. Long live liberalism! Long live human rights! Except when we talk about the rights of the European, white, Christian race.” Here Bayer uses the word “rassz,” which is practically never used in this sense in modern Hungarian. Bayer’s conclusion is that Europe must be defended. “It must be freed from this horror. If necessary with arms in hand. If everything remains the same, there will be bloodshed. These hordes believe that only the blood of Europeans can be shed.”

Perhaps the most often quoted Bayer lines were written in 2006 after the tragedy that occurred in Olaszliszka when a Roma girl stepped in front of a car driven by a school teacher. The child wasn’t hurt. The man stopped when a group of about twenty men and women dragged him out of the car and beat him to death in the presence of his two young daughters. Bayer wrote at the time:

Anyone in this country who runs over a Gypsy kid acts wisely if he doesn’t for a minute contemplate stopping. In the case of driving over a Gypsy kid, we should step on the gas. If in the meantime Gypsies surround the car, we should step on the gas even harder. Those we run over are unlucky. Leaving the scene at the greatest speed, we should call the ambulance from the car and we should stop at the next police station and turn ourselves in. (Unfortunately, I know that this scenario cannot take place because if someone runs over someone, especially a child, one must stop. So, we will stop. But we will have to do something. It is a good idea to get a gun before leaving. If we hit a child, let’s stop, and if the animals begin to gather we should use our weapon without hesitation.)

I don’t always have the stomach to read Bayer’s articles that appear in Magyar Hírlap and lately on his own blog as well. I’m sure that others could come up with hundreds more quotations that would further demonstrate that this man’s decoration by the Orbán government is a disgrace.

As for the charge of anti-Semitism, analysts pussyfoot around when it comes to the Orbán government’s attitude toward the country’s Jewish citizens and their role in Hungary’s history. I don’t think that, with the decision to award Bayer this high honor, there can be any question where Viktor Orbán stands on this issue. Bayer’s decoration must have been cleared with Orbán himself, and he must have known that this move will be interpreted as the government’s approval of Bayer’s racism and anti-Semitism. It seems that Orbán doesn’t care what the world thinks of him and his regime. Bayer’s decoration strikes me as a purposeful provocation not only of the Jewish community at home and abroad but of democratic communities in Europe and the Americas.

August 19, 2016

Pope Francis and his Hungarian critics

Traditionally, the Hungarian Catholic Church has been led by extremely conservative prelates known for their symbiotic relationship with the state. This conservatism solidified during the communist period, when the church was cut off from all the modernizing trends that were taking place in the West.

After the return of parliamentary democracy in 1990, the Catholic Church allied itself with the governing right-of-center MDF, a Christian Democratic party. On the other side were the former communists who now called themselves socialists and the liberals with their unacceptable ideas of a secular state and their insistence on limiting the church’s role to spiritual matters. The left was obviously no place for the conservative church hierarchy. So, after the demise of MDF the Catholic Church became a steadfast supporter of Fidesz. Priests delivered propaganda sermons on Sundays before the 1998 election, urging their flock to vote for the right party. When Fidesz lost the election in 2002, they worked on the party’s behalf throughout the party’s eight lean years. In 2010 the Catholic Church became one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Orbán government’s largess.

Pope Francis

Their support for Fidesz is unwavering, even (or especially) when it comes to the refugee question. While Christian teachings would call for charity toward those in need, the Church’s humanitarian activities were minimal when thousands of refugees were stuck in Hungary for a while without any government help. Moreover, the two largest denominations, the Catholic and the Hungarian Reformed, have not criticized the hate campaign being waged against the refugees. On the contrary, some of the prelates have spread the most incredible theories about the people who are fleeing civil war and Islamic terrorism.

There are quite a few arch-conservatives in the Conference of Bishops, but perhaps the most extreme when it comes to the refugee question is Gyula Márfi, archbishop of Veszprém. In his opinion, these men, women, and children are not refugees. They come to Europe as conquerors. Millions of Muslims realize that Europe abandoned its Christian faith or, as Márfi puts it, “Europe removed the gentle yoke of Christ” and thus became a target for the yoke of Mohamed. He doesn’t care what Pope Francis says about Christian love and charity. Francis comes from Argentina and therefore knows very little about Europe.

This was Márfi’s opinion in October 2015, and with time he has become increasingly confident that he was correct in his appraisal of the situation. He even added that “migration doesn’t have causes but only purposes.” Anyone who denies this is either lying or gravely mistaken. For many of us this kind of language sounds crazy, but we mustn’t forget that Viktor Orbán himself often talked about the possibly organized nature of the refugee flow.

Not all Catholic bishops are as outspoken as Márfi, but he was not the only one who criticized Pope Francis for his welcoming attitude toward the refugees. László Kiss-Rigó, another conservative or right-wing bishop, told a journalist of The Washington Post that “they’re not refugees. This is an invasion.” He added that he was in total agreement with the prime minister. The pope, by contrast, “doesn’t know the situation.” Later, Kiss-Rigó tried to blame The Washington Post for distorting his words.

Gyula Márfi, Archbishop of Vác

Gyula Márfi, Archbishop of Vác

The relationship between the Hungarian Catholic Church and Pope Francis is strained. Most of the Hungarian church leaders think that he is naïve or, worse, perhaps even a liberal-socialist misfit within the body of the universal Catholic Church. And then came a conversation between the pope and journalists on the plane between Krakow and Rome after he spent five days in Poland at the end of July, which seems to have further upset the Hungarian clerics as well as the Hungarian political right. The conversation took place after the murder of an 85-year-old priest in western France. The pope said: “I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I look at the papers I see violence here in Italy—someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law. These are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent.”

The first reaction in the Hungarian media came from Zsolt Bayer, the foul-mouthed journalist who works for the far-right Magyar Hírlap but also writes a blog in which this article appeared. Bayer was one of the founders of the youth organization out of which Fidesz emerged. In fact, he is the proud owner of the #5 membership card. I believe Kövér’s is #1 and Orbán’s #2. In this article Bayer tore into the pope, who in his opinion is “either a senile old fool who is totally unsuitable to be the pope or a scoundrel. Momentarily, I can’t think of a third possibility.”

A day after Bayer’s post the pro-government Magyar Idők published an article about the pope’s controversial statement but opted not to express any opinion of its own. The journalist simply quoted two English-language publications, The American Conservative and The Catholic Herald. 888.hu was less circumspect when it made fun of the pope, who thinks that “Christ might live in one of the rejected migrants.” 888.hu quoted Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, according to whom a war of religion is being waged at the moment. Islam, he claims, calls “for our destruction.” Graham argues that “what’s sin in Europe, is virtue” in the Islamic world. So, the war is on. The pope is wrong.

György Stoffán, a far-right journalist with a dubious biography in Wikipedia, went so far as to demand the pope’s resignation. According to Stoffán, Pope Francis is “not a bad man, just not a European and not a Catholic.” The pope is not only being manipulated by Jews but is a Jew himself, a son of Jewish refugees from Italy. Yes, Stoffán belongs to the lunatic fringe, but it is enough to do a quick internet search to discover that he has company: “Pope Francis is a Jewish impostor,” “biblical prophecy from book of Obadiah reveals pope’s shocking Jewish agenda.” These stories are most likely inspired by Pope Francis’s renunciation of Jewish conversion at the end of 2015. Fundamentalists immediately protested, saying that the Vatican is wrong because Jews do need Jesus. Some of these fundamentalists even said that his teachings are heretical and that he is an anti-pope.

Given Pope Francis’s views, I’m not surprised that many conservatives inside and outside of the Church find him unacceptable and would love to see him disappear as soon as possible. And once he is gone, the Church should forget about his heretical social liberalism. As for the Hungarian people, given their attitude to the alien culture of the refugees, I’m sure that they wholeheartedly agree with the critics of Pope Francis.

August 13, 2016

Viktor Orbán’s favorite party failed to gain the Austrian presidency

On Tuesday Viktor Orbán, who seems to have an iron constitution, took the day off because, as his office announced, he was sick. Yesterday a humorous little piece appeared in Sztarklikk with the title: “That’s why Orbán fell ill.” Surely, the author said, Orbán needed to be revived with smelling salts after learning that Norbert Hofer, the candidate of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), had narrowly lost the Austrian presidential election. Well, smelling salts might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Orbán’s disappointment had to be great because it is a well-known fact that Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of FPÖ, and Viktor Orbán greatly admire one another.

At the end of September when Viktor Orbán visited the Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann (SPÖ), and his deputy, Reinhold Mitterlehner, in order to temper months of quarreling between the two countries, the Hungarian prime minister was also planning to meet Strache. Unfortunately, apparently to the great sorrow of Orbán, the planned meeting had to be cancelled in the last minute. The reason was straightforward enough. Strache is persona non grata in mainstream Austrian political circles, and when the Austrians found out about Orbán’s plans they expressed their strong disapproval. In fact, Deputy Chancellor Mitterlehner, whose party, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), just like Fidesz, belongs to the EU’s European People’s Party, refused to meet with Orbán if he insisted on going through with his original plan. Reluctantly, Orbán cancelled the meeting.

Apparently Orbán is convinced that Strache is a man of the future. Strache’s threat to build a fence between Austria and Hungary to keep Hungarian workers out of his country didn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm for the man. Strache might not like Hungarians working in Austria, but several times he expressed his admiration for Orbán, who is “one of the few honest politicians who don’t want to sell out or destroy Europe.” He added that Orbán is the only European politician who has any brains when it comes to the migrant issue.

The Hungarian government has had strained relations with Austrian politicians of the two governing parties, SPÖ and ÖVP. Even a cursory look at the political news of the last few months reveals repeated insults being exchanged between Werner Faymann and Péter Szijjártó. Although Faymann resigned as chancellor on May 9 of this year, most likely to the great relief of Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó, it looks as if his successor, Christian Kern, will be no better from the Hungarian point of view. In fact, I suspect that the new Austrian chancellor will be an even more severe critic of the Hungarian prime minister, whose views are practically identical to those of Heinz-Christian Strache.

A few days ago Kern announced that “it is an illusion to think that the refugee problem can be solved by European countries adopting authoritarian systems as the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has done.” Szijjártó, as is his wont, responded immediately and rashly. According to him, what is an illusion is any hope that with a change in the Austrian chancellorship insults from Austria will cease. Kern’s statement, he said, compared Hungary to Hitler’s Germany. “It is unacceptable for anyone to use expressions in connection with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that are in any way attached to the most monstrous and darkest dictatorship of the last century.” Not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Magyar Idők, the government’s fervent supporter and often unofficial spokesman, followed the Austrian presidential race with great interest, keeping fingers crossed for Norbert Hofer. A day before the second round of the presidential election, Magyar Idők was pretty certain that Hofer would win. The paper also noted that The New York Times compared FPÖ to the Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak government parties. (I don’t know whether the author of the article considered this an insult or not.) An opinion piece that appeared on the morning of the presidential election ran under the headline: “The Freedom Party is the symbol of success while the left is that of failure.”

Heinz -Christian Strache and Norbert Hofer before the presidential elections / Photo APA / Hans Klaus

Heinz -Christian Strache and Norbert Hofer before the presidential election / Photo APA / Hans Klaus

After the election Mária Schmidt, a historian who has great influence over Viktor Orbán, bemoaned the fact that public discourse in Austria is now dominated by baby boomer leftist politicians of the pro-German tradition. She recalled that Orbán in his first term was the first foreign leader to receive Chancellor Wolfgang Schlüssel of Austria, who was at that time considered a pariah in the West because he included the Freedom Party of Jörg Haider in his coalition government back in 1999.

Viktor Orbán’s friend Zsolt Bayer is also disappointed, but he is optimistic that “a new healthy young Europe is coming” that will replace the 70-year-old dying Europe that is full of bedsores. This youthful new Europe will come “from the mountains of the Alps, the fields of Burgenland, from Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland.” For Bayer, the Freedom Party of Strache and Hofer is not the depository of far-right views but, on the contrary, the embodiment of “normalcy.” So it’s no wonder that Viktor Orbán and his fellow “normal” far-right friends were disappointed by the election results.

May 26, 2016